Someone once said we’re helped along the road to happiness if we follow this axiom: “Don’t think less of yourself, but think of yourself less.”
Alex Debogorski, one of the reality stars of the History Channel’s popular “Ice Road Truckers” series, knows a thing or two about keeping positive in the midst of fear, danger and just plain bad, depressing days. And he knows a little bit about thinking about someone besides himself.
We talked to him the other day when he called us promoting his forthcoming book, “King of the Road: Tales from a Legendary Ice Road Trucker.” (See related article Page )
You might be surprised to learn that when Debogorski is home on a Sunday (which is rare these days), he goes to church and then he goes to visit inmates in the jail and/or patients in the hospital in his home town of Yellowknife, capital of Canada’s Northwest Territories.
“It’s tough because I want to go home and be with my family but I’m glad when I make myself go,” he said, adding that “I get more from it than they do.”
When he meets young people who are depressed because of the hard economic times he suggests they donate their time — at a local nursing home, hospital or some other place in need of volunteers.
“Go and volunteer and you’ll be surprised. It’s kind of like networking” and can even lead to future business, he said.
There was a young man in Yellowknife, Andrew, who got into a fight and ended up a paraplegic and Debogorski would go visit him and bathe his face and comb his hair for him “and tell him dumb jokes and sometimes he gave me advice. I guess it was something for him to look forward to.”
The man died shortly after turning 25, said Debogorski.
He’s been an ice road trucker for 26 years and insists his job is not too different from other truckers’ jobs. Often, he said, his driving entails about 10 hours of boredom and perhaps 2 minutes or 20 to 30 seconds of absolute terror as another trucker suddenly gets too far into his lane and it looks as if they might slide off the road. That would mean a wrecked vehicle in sub zero temperatures, death of the driver, or both.
Debogorski has been quoted on his website as saying he likes to hear the ice creaking and cracking underneath his wheels, that it’s the ice talking to him.
What he doesn’t say is that although he makes every effort to be upbeat and positive, he has plenty of what he calls his “dark days.”
“I have lots of dark days; there have been times when they wanted to give me anti-depressants and I wouldn’t take them. I’m not saying you shouldn’t, they help some people.
“But when you have really black days like you’re walking through hell you have to keep putting one foot in front of the other … and one day the sun comes out and you think, ‘why did I feel like that?’
“When you feel like that you just keep moving. Just do one thing and then you can say ‘OK, I got that done.’
“I’ve been down on myself but I really try hard to look at the good things, to look at the positive. Sometimes somebody has to come to you and help you look at the positive,” someone who can point out that “you have only so many days here … compared to eternity.”
He says it’s those times that friends help him realize his children (he has 11) are doing well, his health is better (he was sidelined during the second season for blot clots in his lungs) and that life is not as bad as it appears.
“If we put more good into this world than we get out, we leave this world a better place,” he said.
Dorothy Cox of The Trucker staff can be reached for comment at email@example.com.
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